Obesity: a major issue in America?

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Obesity is a concern in America, with nearly two-thirds of the population overweight and nearly one-third obese. Health problems associated with obesity include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. Overweight children have also tripled since 1970, with sedentary activity and poor eating habits being among the main factors. Screen time and budget cuts in public schools have contributed to the problem. Surgical weight loss is an option for the morbidly obese. Americans struggle with weight due to lifestyle habits, but new trends are moving towards healthier eating and exercise. The US government invests in research and study obesity trends.

We often hear that Americans are overweight. It is a situation that the media and many health experts cite as an epidemic, affecting both adult and child populations. The concern stems from estimates that nearly two-thirds of the American population is overweight and nearly one-third of them are actually obese. These concerns have led to a range of actions from removing trans fats from hundreds of grocery store and fast food menu items to fitness campaigns.

However, there are sources, such as this Scientific American article, that suggest that concern about obesity in America may be overblown. Certainly it can be difficult to interpret obesity data, which is generally collected on the basis of Body Mass Index (BMI), a figure calculated based on height, weight and age. An individual with a BMI over 30 is considered obese, however, considering the fact that muscle weighs more than fat, it’s hard to know how accurate the calculations are. However, health experts are concerned.

How big of a problem is obesity in America? The most recent calculations show America leads all other countries with just over 30 percent of the population classified as obese and nearly a third more as overweight. Compared with the UK, which comes in at 23% and Canada, whose obese population accounts for just over 14% of the total, it would appear that weight is a concern in America.

These concerns are underscored by the health problems doctors say are associated with obesity, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. High blood pressure, or high blood pressure, is directly linked to BMI, according to statistics published by The Obesity Society, and studies estimate that well over half of cases of high blood pressure in adults can be attributable to obesity.

Adults aren’t the only part of the population who have had weight problems. Since 1970, the percentage of overweight children between the ages of 6 and 19 has tripled and was estimated at 15 percent in 2000. Overweight is the most common and most prevalent nutritional disorder among U.S. children and adolescents, according to pediatricians and a growing problem. It is believed that there are a number of factors that contribute to overweight children, with sedentary activity and poor eating habits being among the main factors.

“Screen time” is a more recent term coined as the amount of time a person spends in front of a computer or television screen, meaning they are physically inactive. Children accumulate hours of screen time at home and at school, and more and more screen-based activities are drawing children away from outdoor play. The video game industry has received its fair share of the blame and subsequently made millions trying to redeem itself. The development of games that encourage movement, such as dancing, jumping and even striking yoga poses, has taken shape and caught on, although how much this helps the situation remains to be seen.
As if the lack of physical activity wasn’t worrying enough, recent attention to budget cuts in public schools that have led to the abolition of physical education classes and the introduction of wages and salaries for playing sports have many parents worried and are working harder to make daily physical activity a part of their children’s lives.

Regardless of age, weight issues plague Americans, as evidenced by the number of advertisements viewed on television and in other media. Recent product developments geared towards those with weight loss and fitness goals in mind go far beyond traditional diet plans. New trends are moving towards healthier eating, such as replacing traditionally fatty foods like french fries with fresh fruit or yoghurt and baking or grilling meat instead of frying. Yet many people struggle to know the difference between foods that look healthy and foods that are actually low in fat and calories, making it difficult to know what the recommended 2000 calorie diet should look like.
Still other products and trends are geared towards healthy lifestyles and activities. An onslaught of exercise systems from yoga to pilates to belly dancing has captured the attention of thousands in recent years, gyms of all shapes and price ranges have popped up across the country, and Americans still struggle with the weight. . A struggle big enough to warrant an increasing number of surgical alterations to reduce weight.

Surgical weight loss encompasses a number of different procedures, all designed to help people lose weight permanently. These procedures are typically reserved only for the morbidly obese, who are defined as having a BMI greater than 40, or just over 5 percent of the US population. According to a 2005 report in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the estimated number of bariatric surgeries increased from 13,365 in 1998 to 72,177 in 2002.

Weight problems related to being overweight are said to be fixable with a combination of diet and exercise. It’s hard to find actual research data that reflects how many American people follow a daily exercise regimen, let alone participate in some type of physical activity every day. Compared to the rest of the modern world, it is probably significantly lower. Americans typically drive to and from their destinations, take escalators or elevators instead of stairs, and work longer hours, making it difficult to find time to exercise or engage in physical activity. These lifestyle habits are only compounded by screen time and a possible false sense of security in trans fat-free food products.

As the debate among experts about the causes of obesity, its associated health complications, and the social and economic implications continues, Americans continue to battle their weight issues. Although many people are comfortable with their weight and level of physical activity, many others, not just in America, but around the world, privately struggle with diet and exercise; a fight it often loses to conveniences in food, transportation, and entertainment. Meanwhile, the US government continues to invest in research and study obesity trends, implementing the rules and regulations possible for a population that has had difficulty acting on information alone.

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